Transported to Childhood

 

 

If there is one phrase that can transport us to our childhood… it is, “Once upon a time”.

This phrase, first recorded in 1380 (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) has opened many oral narratives since 1600… this expression is frequently used as the opening line of fairy tales and stories told to children.

What a beautiful phrase that can transport us to a much simpler time. A time when most of us only had to think about our first experiences and lavish in the moment of discovery. The alluring discovery of life in many different forms became the expansion of my reality.

A creek became an adventure. I would follow the movements of life forms as previously undiscovered entities that  broadened my horizons. A ballet of tadpoles swimming across the creek bed lined with a landscape fabric filled with boulders and stones of various sizes was an auditorium for my education.

The days before school were filled with the wonders of flying creatures that exhibited the colors and motion of theatrical dance. They were found weaving within natures canvas amongst the sounds and light that figured into their magnificence.

Each day brought a new found joy of discovery. Seeing insects, birds, and deer for the first time brought about an inner peace not realized by my youth but appreciated with age. Laying on the grass was one of my favorite pastimes.  However I quickly realized that bees didn’t like my overture into their white clover flower kingdom which provided sustenance for their species.

That first sting made me realize that I couldn’t just accept beauty but had to be careful when approaching it. At that point in time I didn’t understand the complexities of nature that underscored their protections, advances, and sometimes predatory nature.

Why should I? I was not yet educated in anything pertaining to the small envelope of space I occupied. I was a life form in its purest and simplest exhibition. I was being taken care of by two people I had just met that (unbeknownst to me) would give their lives for me, and in addition to that, a term I was yet to discover… their unconditional love.

I lived in a fairy tale world that involved sustenance, sleep, and discovery. Each frame in time was a meal, followed by a celebration (I usually had to dress up for), followed by more moments of discovery.

The first time for everything was the best, and still is. The exception to that was when I was actually too young to remember that event, place, or person. When I did remember, later on, I enjoyed the celebrations but not the attire. Halloween was the worst.

At Halloween, my parents would make me stand on a stool as they took old costumes and dressed me up like a mannequin. This took what seemed like hours and became my opening overture to the concept of time. My first memory of a costume was when my parents dressed me up like an African bush man.

I could have been the character, “Little Black Sambo”, but who knows? I had an African mask and a spear that conveyed a certain level of ferocity, humor, and poor taste, all wrapped into one, little, four year old package.

My parents would drive me around the neighborhood with my friends, all dressed in either cowboy attire, army, or knight garb. I was the only black man in the crowd, which on many occasions led to laughter and pointing. There certainly is a rap song in their somewhere!

My favorite holiday, like any young, dependent, greedy kid… was Christmas. I overlooked the religious basis and went straight for the capitalistic prize… presents. Oh how I enjoyed this holiday.

If it bounced, or I could play war with it… I was overcome with joy. Because I was an only child I reveled in the battles I’d create with my plastic army men on full display with their guns, tanks, ships, etc. However… at the end of the day the comfort of love, caring and understanding enveloped me.

That’s when it became time for my bedtime story. Usually my mom would read to me from a book of fairy tales… “Once upon a time” became the soothing mantra of the times of future past.

I lived in the present at that young age, a magical time of safety, protected by a phrase, “Once upon a time”. Looking back… it seemed like viewing a snow globe within a world I will never forget.